Florida Panthers fans could one day look back at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft as the weekend the proper rebuilding process for the Panthers began. The team’s new General Manager, Dale Tallon, was a busy man as he made 13 selections in the draft. The Panthers stockpiled picks and had three draft choices in each of the first three rounds.
They acquired a first-round pick from Boston a few days prior to the draft, along with Dennis Wideman and a third-round draft pick in 2010, in a deal that sent Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell the other way. They traded that pick at the draft to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for the Kings’ first-round pick and a second-round pick. They traded Keith Ballard and Victor Oreskovich to Vancouver for Steve Bernier, prospect Michael Grabner and another first-round pick.
The Panthers only selected one player shorter than 6’0, with size being a reoccurring theme among the Panthers draft choices. They also only selected one European player.
No one was surprised to see Erik Gudbranson go third overall to the Panthers. At 6’3 and 195 pounds, he’s already physically mature and he uses his body to play a very tough, hard-hitting game. Although Gudbranson is known as a mean shutdown defenseman, it’s believed that he has the potential to develop his offensive skills too as he possesses quite a slapshot. He has also shown a willingness to drop the gloves. The Panthers will try to build their defense around Gudbranson and with Jacob Markstrom, Keaton Ellerby, Dmitri Kulikov and Colby Robak in the system, the pick seems to indicate that the team is doing a good job building from the back out.
Gudbranson appeared in 41 games this past season for the Kingston Frontenacs and missed games due to injuries and a case of mononucleosis. He had two goals, 21 assists and 68 PIM.
Nick Bjugstad, C – Blaine (Minn-HS)
Drafted: 1st round, 19th overall
Height: 6’5 Weight: 190 lbs
Nick Bjugstad, nephew of former NHL forward Scott Bjugstad, was Florida’s second pick of the first round. In 25 games, he recorded 29 goals and 31 assists playing for his hometown Blaine. He also won the Mr. Hockey Award, which is given to the top high school player in the state of Minnesota.
The 6’5, 188 pound center possesses all the skills necessary to become a top-six forward. He has been compared to St. Louis Blues forward David Backes as a guy who works hard and wants the puck. Bjugstad is also known for his strong shot.
Bjugstad accelerated his academics by taking college courses this year so that he can begin playing for the University of Minnesota this fall.
The Panthers continued to take players with size as they selected Quinton Howden.
Howden was the WHL‘s first overall pick in the 2007 Bantam Draft. Now, he projects to be a solid third-liner one day for the Panthers. Howden’s strongest asset is his skating.
Although he isn’t a flashy pick, Howden will be relied on one day to kill penalties and play a responsible two-way game.
In 65 games, Howden had 28 goals and 37 assists this year for 65 points. He likely won’t develop into an offensively dynamic forward, but should be a consistent contributor at both ends of the ice.
At one time, it was thought that John McFarland would challenge for the first overall spot along with Taylor Hall (EDM). Since then, McFarland has failed to produce as much as he was expected to despite having a ton of talent. There are also questions surrounding whether or not he has attitude problems.
If McFarland is ever able to pull his game together, he could become quite the threat. He’s one of the fastest skaters in the draft and has a very good wrist shot. He also plays with an edge and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves. However, he only put up 50 points in 64 games for the Sudbury Wolves this season.
On the other hand, scouts say McFarland developed the defensive side of his game this season. He was used as one of Sudbury’s primary penalty killers.
With their second pick in the second round, the Panthers went with yet another big body.
Alexander Petrovic, who is already physically mature at age 18, is a stay-at-home defenseman. He’s able to log big minutes while still playing a physical game. He also has a strong shot from the point.
Some scouts say Petrovic began to play worse after losing a fight pretty badly to Dylan McIIrath (NYR) during the CHL prospects game. There are also knocks against his hockey sense and mobility.
He plays a strong two-way game and isn’t afraid to get gritty on the forecheck. He led his team, Des Moines of the USHL, in goals with 22 and also tallied 21 assists in 51 games for a strong offensive campaign. The Panthers are likely expecting Brickley to be a bit of a project but he has all the tools needed to become a solid bottom-six forward for the club one day.
Brickley has committed to the University of Vermont for the upcoming season.
Joe Basaraba, RW – Shattuck-St. Mary’s (Minn-HS)
Drafted: 3rd round, 69th overall
Height: 6’2 Weight: 190 lbs
After being drafted by the Erie Otters of the OHL, Basaraba opted to play closer to his home of Fort Frances, Ontario. He transferred to the Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep program in Minnesota where he continued to play high school hockey.
Joe Basaraba will never turn into an NHL scoring threat. The Panthers drafted him for his size and strength, which allow him to deliver punishing checks. His other asset is his strong shot but he has trouble burying his chances.
Basaraba had 20 goals and 22 assists in 50 games. He has committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth for the 2010-2011 season.
Sam Brittain, G – Canmore Eagles (AJHL)
Drafted: 4th round, 92nd overall
Height: 6’3 Weight: 215 lbs
Sam Brittain has been compared to Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender J-S Giguere for his mannerisms in net and his butterfly technique. He’s excellent at using his size to cover the net as much as possible and knows how to play angles. He’s also able to control his rebounds.
While he isn’t flashy, Brittain has everything it takes to be a pro goaltender. He’ll have to prove though that he can play at a higher level and put up better numbers. He’ll get his chance next year when he joins the University of Denver, although he’ll likely play as the team’s backup.
Brittain appeared in 52 games this year for Canmore of the AJHL. He posted a 3.27 goals against average and .896 save percentage.
Benjamin Gallacher, D – Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL)
Drafted: 4th round, 93rd overall
Height: 5’11 Weight: 183 lbs
Immediately after selecting Brittain, the Panthers took another AJHL player in Ben Gallacher. The defenseman was the team’s first pick of the day to stand shorter than six feet. At one point the NHL Central Scouting Bureau identified him as one of the "Players to Watch" for the draft, but by the end of the season he wasn’t ranked.
He recorded 4 goals, 6 assists and 58 PIMs in 43 games. Gallacher will play for Ohio State University next season.
Joonas Donskoi was expected to be a second-round pick by some at the beginning of the season. But as the year continued scouts became frustrated with his lack of effort. He also failed to produce as much as he would have liked, scoring two goals and two assists in 18 games.
Donskoi is far from a safe pick considering how badly he stock fell. But considering how many picks the Panthers had already made by that point in the draft, they could afford to take a gamble. What they hope to get out of Donskoi one day is a talented stick-handler with an accurate wristshot.
He was Florida’s only European pick in this draft.
Zachary Hyman, C – Hamilton Red Wings (CCHL)
Drafted: 5th round, 123rd overall
Height: 6’2 Weight: 195 lbs
There are some out there who believe 18-year-old Zachary Hyman may have been a quiet steal in this year’s draft. That’s because Hyman played in the CCHL so that he could continue his academics. He scored 35 goals and 40 assists in 49 games for 75 points. Prior to juniors, Hyman was thought to be on par with the likes of Tyler Seguin and Jeff Skinner.
Corey Durocher, LW – Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Drafted: 6th round, 153rd overall
Height: 6’2 Weight: 173 lbs
A teammate of first round pick Erik Gudbranson, Durocher is another player believed by some to be a potential gem. In his rookie season with the Frontenacs, the 18-year-old scored 26 points in 66 games, only one of which came on the powerplay. He’s 6’3 and 175 pounds, so the potential is there for Durocher to turn into a power forward one day, although he’s a project.
R.J. Boyd, D – Cushing Academy (Mass-HS)
Drafted: 7th round, 183rd overall
Height: 6’2 Weight: 175 lbs
With their final pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the Florida Panthers took a hometown kid. He is the first Florida-born player to be drafted by either of the two teams in the state. The 19-year-old went undrafted in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Boyd had two goals and 11 assists in 35 games playing high school hockey for Cushing Academy.